“COLD AIR IS BEING PUMPED INTO MY CELL”

by Sharon Rondeau

(Dec. 10, 2017) — A letter received on Thursday from TDOC inmate Grenda Ray Harmer, #88710, reports that he has been moved into a cell, still within the Protective Custody (PC) unit at the Morgan County Correctional Complex (MCCX), whose temperature is reportedly far lower than TDOC standards permit.

The first several paragraphs of the letter were read verbatim on Friday’s edition of the “Nooganomics” radio show hosted by David Tulis during the 10:30 a.m. segment.

A copy of the grievance Harmer filed over his cell condition was enclosed with the letter and dated November 22, 2017. In it, Harmer addressed Warden Shawn Phillips, a Unit 1 manager and a correction officer with the rank of “corporal” with, “Cold air is being pumped into my cell and its 30° degrees and lower. My cell stays around 10° degrees or lower. I’ve been complaining about turning the heat on. Today during inspection around 9:40 am, I was wearing my toboggan and gloves. Unit Manager Gibson told me to remove my toboggan and I complained I was cold because cold air is being pumped into my cell…” [sic]

During the radio spot on Friday morning, this writer made the point that the word “toboggan” may mean something different in the South than in the North, where it signifies a long, flat snow sled. Indeed, the Merriam-Webster dictionary states that in the South, the word “toboggan” means a “stocking cap,” which Tulis had believed to be the case.

Harmer self-clarified the matter on page 2 of his letter, which we did not read on-air.

In the letter, Harmer said that another “corporal” “went and told inmates I’ve got a child molestation charge which is totally false.”  Harmer’s criminal convictions do not include charges of child molestation.

He said he has also been issued a disciplinary report as a result of the cold temperatures in his cell.

“I was so cold I was wearing my toboggan and gloves,” Harmer wrote in his third paragraph. “Mr. Gibson told me that I can’t wear a toboggan during inspection. I told Mr. Gibson that I’m cold because cold air is being blown into my cell. That Mr. Gibson needs to turn the heat on.” [sic]

Harmer continued:

Mr. Gibson then said I don’t get no recreation and no pod time. Pod time is the only time I’m permitted showers.

Corporal D. Cooper open my door for recreation and asked if I was going to recreation and I said no because Mr. Gibson said I couldn’t go. That’s when Corporal Cooper stated “I don’t care what he said. I run this Unit.” I looked at Corporal Cooper, stood up, and said okay. That’s when Corporal Cooper “Fine. I’ll write you up.” [sic]

I was intentionally placed in a no-win situation. If I would of went out I’ve been issued a disciplinary report for refusing a direct order. When I got up to go out to recreation Corporal D. Cooper wrote me up. For what, I don’t know yet.

In his next paragraph, Harmer connected a November 28 “Administrative Notice” he sent to TDOC Commissioner Tony Parker citing Phillips’s reported legal and policy violations as the likely catalyst for the disciplinary write-up.

The two-page grievance reads (strikes-outs made by Harmer):

On Sunday morning, a link leading to the TDOC’s website’s page for MCCX yields a “404” message, and selecting the prison from the list yields a page wherein Phillips’s name is misspelled and the customary photo of the warden and facility are missing.

The same scrambling appears with the other state prisons as of this writing.


An attempt to access the TDOC policy pertaining to cell temperatures also yielded a “404” message.

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